Last week the Social Security Administration announced twenty five new Compassionate Allowances conditions, including a dozen cancers and disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune and multiple body systems.  Included in the list of new conditions is prostate cancer, which will allow patients to receive life-saving treatment quicker.

Read more at www.socialsecurity.gov/news.htm.

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As a Social Security blogger I typically search for news stories on the topic several times a week.  Imagine my surprise when the top stories this morning are about Social Security overpaying benefits, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars!

‘Critical failures’ lead to Social Security overpayments – CNN  Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:33:06 GMT

Long after notifying Social Security that they have either started working again or earn too much income to qualify for benefits, some disability recipients continue to receive payments for months or even years. It’s not until a notice from Social Security shows up that they discover they now owe tens of thousands of dollars to the agency due to these overpayments.

Typical of our government leaders, Social Security is blaming the overpayments on fraud and abuse.  While there have been plenty of examples of abuse by beneficiaries, especially when it comes to disability benefits, in this case the overpayments can be traced to critical failures within the Social Security system.

Social Security employees must manually review income information to determine if people receiving disability benefits still qualify.

With a shortage of workers at SSA and a large increase in disability applications, the process is taking much longer than it should, thus resulting in people receiving payments for many months or even years after they no longer qualify.

To their credit, many beneficiaries who received overpayments have tried to correct the problem, but have had trouble getting the payments to stop due to the backlog at the Social Security Administration.

‘I was overpaid by Social Security’ – CNNMoney  Mon, 28 Oct 2013 10:24:34 GMT

When Rivetto’s husband received a raise that meant their family no longer qualified for benefits, she reported the change in income to Social Security six months later. That turned out to be a big mistake.

According to a recent audit by the Government Accountability Office, the Social Security Administration has made $1.3 billion in overpayments in just two years.  While they are working on correcting this problem, the SSA has lost over 11,000 employees since 2011; at the same time the work load is increasing due to baby boomers applying for retirement and an increase in disability applications.  The SSA has stated that they will investigate any issues raised by the GAO, but I wouldn’t expect to see any results soon…

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Social Security Increase for 2014 to be 1.5 Percent

October 21, 2013

Update 10/30/13:  It’s official.  The SSA just announced that the benefit increase for 2014 will be 1.5%.  You can see the press release here. Many Seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries may not know it yet, but the expected Social Security increase for 2014 is 1.5 percent. The Announcement was scheduled for October 16, but […]

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The Government Shutdown Won’t Affect Your Social Security Benefits, But the Debt Ceiling Might

October 13, 2013

Social Security Benefits Will Continue to be Paid The good news is that Social Security retirement, disability and other benefits are continuing to be paid during the government shut down. The bad news is that some services are not available during the shutdown, the annual COLA announcement has been delayed, and if the debt ceiling […]

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Q&A: Can I Collect Social Security Before Retirement Age?

July 8, 2013

Q:  I lost my wife 3 years ago, she was 62. I am 55 and am not able to work anymore.  Can I draw her Social Security now, or am I to young? A:  Unfortunately, I have seen this (or similar) questions much too often lately.  Whether it’s due to the loss of a spouse, […]

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Q&A: IRAs and Social Security

June 17, 2013

Q:  I’ve heard that if you earn too much while collecting Social Security that you can be penalized.  What happens if I take money out of my IRA or I sell some investments?  Will I be penalized then too? A:  You are correct in that people who are receiving Social Security retirement benefits before their […]

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Q&A: Do My Children Qualify for Benefits?

June 12, 2013

Q:  My husband will reach full retirement age in October of this year and would like to collect Social Security retirement benefits, even though he plans on continuing to work.  We have two sons, age 13 and 16.  Will they also be able to collect benefits? A:  Yes, dependent children qualify for Social Security benefits […]

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When’s the Best Time to Apply for Social Security

April 27, 2013

One of the biggest questions you will face as you get closer to retirement is when to start collecting your Social Security retirement benefits.  The decision is much more complicated – and important – than you may think. Not only will this decision affect how much income you will receive during retirement, it affects how […]

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Medicare Enrollment Online – No More Waiting in Long Lines at the SSA Office!

March 11, 2013

In an effort to save money, Social Security has been making many services available online. This is a win-win for everyone. Social Security saves money, and you don’t have to drive to your local SS office or wait in line once you get there. One of the many things you can do online is apply […]

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Medicare vs Medicaid: What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

March 11, 2013

Medicare and Medicaid are easily confused for each other. They have similar names and they are both government programs, so it’s no wonder. But there are many more differences than similarities. While they are both health care programs, they offer very different coverage, the costs are different for each program and who qualifies is also […]

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